Page last updated at 00:16 GMT, Friday, 16 January 2009

Bush backs record in final speech


Bush backs record in final speech

President George W Bush has strongly defended his record in office in his final TV address to Americans.

Mr Bush said his administration had brought democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, and had prevented another attack on American soil since 9/11.

He said he had acted decisively to beat the threat of financial collapse.

Mr Bush gave the address in front of an audience of friends and family and the emotion of the moment could clearly be heard in his voice, correspondents say.

There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions but there can be little debate about the results.
George W Bush

Mr Bush will leave office on 20 January when Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th American president.

While Mr Bush strongly defended his record he said he would have done some things differently, if given the chance.

"Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taleban harboured al-Qaeda and stoned women in the streets, to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school," he said.

"Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America, to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the US.

"There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions, but there can be little debate about the results."

'Uplifting end'

Mr Bush also declared that with determination and hard work, American economic prosperity would be restored. He said his administration had faced the prospect of financial collapse and had acted decisively to overcome it.


Bush years - Defence spending
With US troops engaged in conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan, defence spending has doubled to over $600bn per year during George W Bush's time in office.
Bush years - National debt
During the Bush presidency the US national debt had passed the $10 trillion point even before the $700bn bail-out plan for ailing US financial institutions.
Bush years - Unemployment
The fallout from the Wall Street collapse is now filtering through to the rest of the US economy. Many experts believe that unemployment will keep rising in 2009.
Bush years - Millionaires
The number of millionaires in the US quickly recovered after the dotcom crash of 2000-2002 but is likely to fall again following the current financial downturn.
Bush years - Gasoline prices
The growth of manufacturing in China and other developing countries drove up oil prices and the price of gasoline until it became a major issue in the 2008 presidential election.
Bush years - Mobile phones
The popularity of mobile phones has been one of the big consumer successes of the last decade, though there are still fewer phones in the US than in China or India.
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"It's a very tough time for hardworking families. But the toll would be far worse if we had not acted," he said.

The BBC's Jonathan Beale, in Washington, says the address was clearly an emotional moment for Mr Bush.

Mr Bush said he had always acted in the nation's best interests.

To those who accused him of seeing the world in black and white, Mr Bush insisted that there was good and evil and that America must maintain its moral clarity.

Mr Bush said he would be succeeded by a man whose story reflected the enduring promise of America.

The outgoing president ended with an uplifting message urging America to continue to engage with the rest of the world with confidence.

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